Novel Alert: Kristin Lavransdatter


In the early 1990s, R. Kent Hughes surveyed Elisabeth Elliot for her favorite books, and then published her response in an appendix to his book Disciplines of a Godly Man [?].

When asked to name her single favorite spiritual book, Elliot simply wrote: “Impossible to say.” But when asked about her favorite novel, the decision must have been easier, for she listed one title: Kristin Lavransdatter by Norwegian novelist Sigrid Undset (1882–1949). For it, Undset was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1928.

A few days back, Wesley Hill published his favorite reads of 2014, announcing:

. . . the best book I read this year was Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. . . . Originally a trilogy published in the early 1920s, Kristin Lavransdatter tells the story, over the course of about one thousand pages, of the whole life of its title character in medieval Norway. It has elements of the macabre, as it eerily explores lingering superstitions in face of an ascendant Christianity. It also has elements of the devotional, reading at times like a spiritual handbook, a chart of the soul’s progress to be used as a goad to the reader’s own self-examination. Mainly, though, it is a story of marriage and motherhood and all the ways that we remain mysteriously — sometimes wondrously, sometimes fearfully and devastatingly — distinct and distant from one another.

One thought on “Novel Alert: Kristin Lavransdatter

  1. Elisabeth Elliot is my spiritual hero, and when she made references to KL in her books I knew I needed to read it. I am a normally a reader of Wodehouse, Dickens, and Austen, but this fairly heavy book was a rich read that stayed with me for a long time. I keep wanting to read it again, but with three small children I have been unable to commit to it. This post might push me into it again. Thanks!

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